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UN and partners step-up to assist China after lethal earthquake

UN and partners step-up to assist China after lethal earthquake

After a powerful earthquake last month killed more than 250 people and left 3,000 without housing in the harsh winter conditions in China, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners are stepping up to provide the country with needed assistance.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is providing an emergency grant of $50,000 drawn from its own resources as well as from funds pre-positioned by the Government of Norway. OCHA said it is also prepared, in coordination with relevant organizations in the UN system, to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance.

OCHA said the major problem is the reconstruction of houses, clinics and schools, after the tremors on 20 February destroyed 70,000 housing units and collapsed 103 schools. Although the Chinese Government sent 17,000 tents, the local government's rehabilitation plan does not have the required funding to cater to all those affected. Reconstruction is expected to continue for the next three to four months.

Snowfall and low temperatures in the last two days have made the situation more difficult for people without adequate shelter, OCHA said. The absence of safe drinking water sources may increase the risk of water related diseases. According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), local health clinics have requested medical supplies. More food assistance is also needed as many families lost their food reserves.